Saturday, June 14, 2014

My path to gluten-free survival

A few years ago I read a suggestion about weight loss that stuck with me--in a diet book whose title has not had the same fate. Anyway, the author advised his readers to eat the same breakfast, the same lunch, and the same snacks every day. Dinner was the meal he said to change up with interesting and healthy foods. I think the idea was to help the dieter stop constantly obsessing about food (and those dreaded calorie counts) by removing the question: “What will I eat?”

“What will I eat?” is the question that newly-diagnosed celiacs must also ask. Because wheat is such a large part of the American diet, finding and preparing safe foods is a frustrating and time-consuming journey. As I’ve traveled this gluten-free road, I’ve found that the diet expert’s advice is a good roadmap for living a GF lifestyle as well as for losing weight. The fewer decisions I have to make about food, the more I can quit obsessing about my situation and the more quickly I can move on down the road with my daily routine.

In a “normal” week, my food intake follows this route:

I always look forward to my standard Breakfast: Homemade yogurt mixed with homemade applesauce and two cups of hot tea. (I used to drink coffee, but I’ve discovered that, although I love it, my digestive system doesn’t like it at all.)

On occasion, I’ll treat myself to bacon, eggs and fruit or a paleo bar and a banana with my morning tea, but I love that yogurt. My first bite of the stuff in the morning is one of the happiest moments of the day. (OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but I really, really love it!)

Lunch is also pretty simple: Unless I have leftovers from a previous night’s dinner (my favorite), I eat chicken salad or a panini on paleo bread or vegetable soup—or if I play my cards right, all three. I usually add fruit for dessert. Berries, an apple, or a handful of grapes are my favorites. If I eat out, it’s probably a salad.

If you become bored with your daily meals,
you can always "reroute."
I keep the chicken salad—or at least all of its ingredients—on hand to whip up in a matter of minutes. All it requires is canned chicken breast (or home-cooked leftovers, if possible), chopped celery and hard-boiled eggs (which I prepare on the weekend), pecans, and homemade 20-second mayonnaise. (Find the recipe on this blog under the Favorite Recipes tab.) I also make pale bread (also on this blog) a couple of times a month, slice it up and freeze it, and then pull it out when I need it for the paninis.

My daily Snack is generally one of two choices: A chopped frozen banana mixed up with a tablespoon of almond butter or a paleo bar (or two or three). I have my snack in the evening, because that’s when I find myself hungry.

Dinner is where I usually find a change of scenery, although we have our go-to favorites: Taco salad, chicken and veggies from the slow cooker, grilled meat and asparagus or broccoli, chicken chili.  If we’ve had a busy day, we often opt out of cooking and take a side trip to one of our favorite restaurants.

While you certainly don't have to eat the same foods that I have listed here, you might find that always having a few easy-to-prepare meals within easy reach will prevent you from becoming too hungry and "running off the road." Keeping the gluten-free diet simple gives those of us with celiac disease more time enjoy a saner, more fulfilling, less stressful life. If meals become monotonous, we are always free to make a (GF) detour.